You Can Report Bad or Hostile Drivers

 You don’t have to let careless or belligerent drivers get away with it.  For years the Department of Motor Vehicles has had a program to get bad drivers off the road. Click on this form to open a PDF you can fill out to start the process.

Driver Complaint - thumbIntended primarily to report elderly, blind, or impaired drivers whose conditions have deteriorated to the point they may be a threat to others, this procedure causes the DMV contact the individual to prove they still qualify to be licensed to drive. Increasingly now, bicyclists are using this process to turn in hostile drivers, those who buzz-pass in violation of the 3-Foot Passing law, or make dangerous “right hook” or “left cross” turns which put them in jeopardy.

Rude, careless, and hostile often equals assault. Bicyclists are fully franchised users of the road. Motorists must respect your space, pass only when safe to do so, and at least show you the same courtesy they do other motorists.

Polite honks are one thing; long, drawn out horn use delivered at the last second or while sitting on your wheel is another. It’s pure intimidation, a threat delivered from a 4,000 lb. vehicle– it qualifies as “assault with a deadly weapon.”

The DMV Driver Reevaluation form covers that.

But will it get results? Lawyers familiar with the DMV’s process say it will, eventually. A driver properly identified on the form will be contacted and informed their behavior on the road warrants an interview. The process is as anonymous as the DMV can keep it– your identity should not be revealed but the nature of your complaint will be.

“Acts violent or aggressive while driving,” “Fails to react to traffic signals, other cars, or pedestrians, etc.,”  “Turns in front of other cars [or bicycles].” When you check these boxes and add additional comments on the form you should get a DMV officer’s attention.

And multiple complaints filed on the same driver will have real impact.

The driver’s name is not essential. Contrary to the asterisk on the form, a complete license plate number and vehicle description can trigger the review process. If you post video evidence of hostile or reckless behavior on line, be sure to include a link on the form. That’s another reason to pack a GoPro or Fly6 camera.

The California Association of Bicycle Organizations and committees within Caltrans are examining the form and reporting process to make it more responsive to pedestrians and bicyclists. We’ll update this column as news becomes available.

Cycling Savvy Training in Irvine, June 19th/20th

Register Here

OCBC is proud to announce our second CyclingSavvy course of 2015 on June 19th and June 20th in Irvine.

CyclingSavvy is a program of American Bicycling Education Association, Inc. (ABEA). The course teaches the principles of Mindful Bicycling:

  • empowerment to act as confident, equal road users;
  • strategies for safe, stress-free integrated cycling;
  • tools to read and problem-solve any traffic situation or road configuration.

The course is offered in three 3-hour components: a bike-handling session, a classroom session and an on-road tour. The classroom and bike-handling sessions may be taken individually, the road tour requires the other two as a pre-requisite.

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From Fat to Fatlete

Zavala_Best_Cropped_Bike_Photo_smallMy name is Ramon Zavala. I bike for transportation with exercise being a really nice perk of that transportation. I’ve never been in a bike race and I don’t wear skin-tight cycling clothes. My one and only bike is made of steel and weighs 30 lbs. with just the rear cargo rack. I ride to work with big red bike bags. This is my story of going from a fat non-bicyclist to a soft, but very healthy, bike commuter while expending very little conscious effort to do so.

 

 A Slow, Fat Realization

A couple years back, I was rummaging through a display of one of the now-defunct Borders bookstores. And while seeking out that $1 diamond in the rough, I found Jayne Williams’ Slow Fat Triathlete.

The title hooked me. “Raw, self-deprecating honesty? That’s me! “

At the time, I was only a year or so into bike commuting, but it was enough time to notice that a substantial amount of fat had disappeared from my body and I had grown some very powerful leg muscles. I felt “healthy” for the first time in years. I was still 230 lbs., but for a 6’1” male with new, hulkishly muscular legs, that’s not so bad.

I handed the book to my partner almost as a joke. You see, my partner used to be the type of person who, on a whim, would decide that she will have six-pack abs in one month. She would make extreme changes to her after life and then, a week later, give in to physical fatigue and for love of the couch. She used to be this “all-or-nothing” person when it came to her own fitness and she would always burn out before she met any of her goals.

She bought the book. 

The more she read, the more she began to understand that physical change in a busy life is possible with small, incremental changes. She told me about what she had read I began to think about my own physical change that had been happening without any explicit intention of my own.

Flabtastic!

My physical change came as a result of committing to bike commuting. At the time, I had a 4-ish mile round-trip commute down steep hills in the morning and a work out climbing back up those hills in the afternoon. That 20-minute commute was the only change for quite a while. No diet change whatsoever!

Then I started going on Tuesday night rides. No, not for fitness- but for food. My weekly 20 miles of commuting had 10-25 miles added to it by virtue of attending the Taco Tuesday Social Ride on the UCI campus. Over the following months, I continued to eat as I had, but the change in physical activity meant I had more energy through the work day and more energy when I got home. I slept better, I lost fat, and I put on muscle. I felt happier in my skin. I was happier and healthier.

As someone in the place to influence others and convince them to try out bike commuting, I often tell them this story and they invariably ask, “So when are you going to change your diet and fully slim down?” I always respond, “Meh…”

Unlike proper “athletes”, I like having random weekends dominated by beer, wine, cheese, and pastries. I like going out to eat and not having to count how many ounces of sour cream I’ve had this month.

Don’t let all my biking confuse you. I’m a fatlete, not an athlete.

I think it would be cool to be ripped, but I just don’t have the willpower to work out for the sake of my looks. Moreover, I like beer. I like wine. I like cheese and pastries. And that’s OK!

Every Day Since

Today, having integrated biking as my main form of transportation, I’m healthier and so much more fit than I thought I would be a couple years ago. In such a short time of casual riding, I’ve been able to turn my health from “mediocre” to “Today I rode 30 miles round-trip to pick something up in Lake Forest.”

My commute is now 8 miles round-trip, but only minimal inclines. I no longer attend those Tuesday night rides due to other time commitments, but I still bike commute and, more notably, I bike pretty much everywhere else I need to go. For longer trips that require a trip on the Metrolink or Amtrak, I ride to the station and bring my bike with me.

Since realizing that biking to a healthier self and being a foodie aren’t diametrically opposed, I’ve begun seeing others who scoff at the “get thin” compulsion. I’m a big fan of FLAB (Fat Lads At the Back) in the UK and the Clydesdale/Athena discussion group at Bikeforums.net. Check them out if you think you and I may be in the same proverbial boat.

Healthier, happier, and slightly less heavy,

Ramon Zavala

Ramon Zavala serves on the board of directors for the Orange County Bicycle Coalition and is a certified cycling instructor with League of American Bicyclists. He also leads the Sustainable Transportation program at UC Irvine while also serving as the campus’ Senior Bicycle Coordinator. If you liked what you read here, Ramon would like to hear from you. Contact him at zavalar@gmail.com.

 

Class 4 Bikeway Summit, Sacramento

— Pete van Nuys

Impressions expressed here are my own.

OCBC’s Mission is advocacy for all bicyclists. Federal and state trends have brought us to the brink of new highway designs driven by environmental concerns and administered by the new California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA). Reporting directly to the Governor’s office, agencies under CalSTA include the CHP, DMV, CalTrans, OTS, and others.

CalSTA has directed major change in CalTrans’ priorities. Active Transportation emphasis has resulted in new policies and goals, among them a tripling of bicycle use by 2020 (though by what metrics I’m not sure). Nevertheless, it’s an ambitious goal.

And so we come to Cycletracks, the focus of this meeting. For cycletracks, or Class 4 Bikeways, are intended and designed to attract Californians who do not today ride in any significant way. Debates about their efficacy are irrelevant at this point– agencies throughout the state are competing with each other to become “bike friendly” and this latest concept is now one of the “tools in our toolbox” (if I heard that term one more time during this meeting I was going to throw a wrench at the speaker).

Cl. 4 bikeways are largely unknown in California: there are no standards for where they are appropriate, no agreed upon geometric dimensions, no set behaviors for bicyclists using them. To fill this void Caltrans has been tasked with publishing a guide. And while the form this document or documents might take has not even been determined, the agency must publish their guide by the end of 2015.

Usually the mucky-mucks at Caltrans would huddle with their consultants, draft their guide– typically in or a bulletin supplementing the Highway Design Manual and Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices– and put it out for those who build the roads to use. And those of us who use the roads they build would comment after the fact.

But someone at Caltrans realized that maybe when it comes to bicycle transportation “we” among the masses know more about the subject than they do. So they turned this process on its head, and summoned bicyclists, advocates, public works professionals, some CHP, planners, and consultants to sit down at the beginning of the process. And so we did.

Conclusions
There were none. This was an initial input process, to be digested by Caltrans Headquarters staff. And there was a lot to digest.

First, the Class 4 concept is much more complicated and costly than almost everyone assumed going in. And the anticipated end user challenges of intersection navigation only scratch the surface. The real safety concerns for the majority of those users– neophytes, untrained, undisciplined bicyclists– is a responsibility fraught with liability.

Those of us whose first concern was protection of cyclists’ right to the street stressed that cycletracks must not be mandatory and must not look mandatory. For instance, we stated that where a Cl. 4 is to be installed on a street with existing Cl. 2, that Bike Lane must remain next to the travel lane. If installed on a street with sharrows, the sharrows should remain.

Maintenance of point A to B efficiency should require that bicycle movement outside the cycletrack remain unimpeded. Bicycle signal faces should control only bicyclists within the cycletrack, not those using the roadway outside.

And maintenance of the pavement itself was a frequently discussed concern. As was ADA and pedestrian access across that pavement. Passenger side dooring. Delivery truck parking. Signage, marking, and behavior at unsignalized intersections.

Capital cost, time required to install, and the cost of correcting errors in design or installation was cited more than once, with the offered solution the ability to temporarily install with movable barriers, signs, and paint. This often led to the need for a clear means to experiment by local agencies and the need for liability immunity.

Fuzzy Language
Despite these concerns cycletrack advocates remain determined to push projects ahead, insisting on “flexible standards,” an obvious oxymoron. Fuzzy language was a consistent challenge at the meeting– Caltrans staffers were assigned to “captain” each table and get key ideas out of each discussion group and up onto flip charts. I’d rate their performance at 75%.

Facilitators handed out a Glossary of Terms to bring consistency into our discussions. Highlight of the day came early when Jim Baross pointed out that the name of these facilities, by statute, was “separated bikeways.” Every page in the Glossary referred to them as “separated bike lanes.”

A draft guidance is likely to be circulated before the final document. Whether the final emerges as a separate work, or is incorporated in the Highway Design Manual was not determined.

Personal Opinions
E-bike sales and the power of the free market will do more to put butts on bike seats than Class 4 bikeways. That point was almost completely ignored yesterday. But our roadways will look different in 10 years and the role pedal-only bicycles will play is uncertain.

The cost and complication, not to mention political climate of individual cities, will limit cycletrack installations, probably to city cores and select major arterials.

The words “culture” and “cultural change” popped up several times yesterday. It’s amazing that calls for education and communication came up so seldom.